lol·ly·gag (lol-lee-gag) also lal·ly·gag
v. intr. lol·ly·gagged, lol·ly·gag·ging, lol·ly·gags.

To dawdle aimlessly.

Look at them all Smithers, lollygaggers, every one - Mr Burns

Oh by golly it sounds like a word from a musical! Ira Gershwin where are you?

Lollygag has come a long way. Today it's used as a verb, pronounced LOL-ee-gag, kind of a funny little word that means to dawdle or laze around or do just about anything else other than what's supposed to be done. Lollygag is a term commonly used inside of the military. If one is dillydallying or piddling around it's called lollygagging. Many American veterans will remember it, since it is part of the standard repertoire of terms used to verbally chastise new recruits I know Dad used it more than once trying to get me to hitch up my get along. With a whistle and a wink he'd sing to his lollygagging little Pocahontas:

    I wait and worry
    but you're never seem to hurry
    You're a slow poke!
Oh the Joys of Entrepreneurial Parenting a lollygag specialist! People have been accused of lollygaging in America since the middle of the 19th century. It first appeared as a verb sometime in 1869, before that it was used as a noun as a humorous word for foolishness or nonsense. Lallygag means the same thing but sounds pretty awkward. Earlier, lollygager was used in a pejorative sense as early as the 14th and 15th century. Members of a religious sect and followers of John Wyclif who called themselves Lollards taken from the Middle Dutch word "lollaerd," meaning a babbler of nonsense. It's first recorded use in English is in 1382.
    The name was derived by contemporaries from lollium, a tare, but it has been used in Flanders early in the fourteenth century in the sense of "hypocrite," and the phrase "Lollardi seu Deum laudantes" (1309) points to a derivation from lollen, to sing softly (cf. Eng. lull). Others take it to mean "idlers" and connect it with to loll. We first hear of it as referring to the Wycliffite in 1382, when the Cistercian Henry Crumpe applied the nickname to them in public at Oxford.
Lollards held the Bible to be the only authentic rule of faith, exhorted the clergy to return to the simple life of the early church and opposed war, the doctrine of transubstantiation, confession, and they were iconoclastic. Vigorously persecuted throughout the reigns of Henry IV, Henry V, and up until the early years of Henry VI, many were burned at the stake by prelate Thomas Arundel. One of their most prominent supporters at the time was the English martyr Sir John Oldcastle, who was executed under the 1417 statute De Haeretico Comburendo. But by the reign of Henry VIII the Lollards had began to merge with the rising forces of Protestantism .

Some other clues as to the source of the word come from loll which means to dangle of droop and gag means to deceive or trick. Today you might loll around on the weekend to relax and take it easy. To loll can also means to let your tongue hang out, and did you know that lolly is an English slang term for tongue? Perhaps that's where the word lollipop comes from by the way, says one source. I might make sense that lollygagging" would come from the idea that lazy lollygaggers are experts at sitting around with their tongues hanging out.

Interestingly, in the middle of the 1900' "lollygag" meant "to fool around" in the sense of kissing or caressing deceptively. The Cassell Dictionary of Slang tells that "loll" is an old dialect word that means 'tongue'. That certainly relates to kissing! And to make things even more slobbery, Wilton's Etymology says, 'to flirt or engage in amorous behavior especially in public, to act foolishly, or to hoax,' while the Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology hints the 'gag' in lollygag was used for its sense of 'stuffing', or 'filling' ' hmmmmm more than just swappin' spit going on! Ellery Queen used it in the 60's, "lallygagging around under the awning away from the gassy streets" Maybe there was some lollygawking happening when a reporter from Northern Vindicator newspaper in Iowa admonished: the lascivious lolly-gagging lumps of licentiousness who disgrace the common decencies of life by their love-sick fawnings at our public dances.

What a history, from preaching to petting to puttering !


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